Marshall Origin: Is It Plexi Enough?

There seems to be two debates about Marshall’s new Origin amp at the moment: is it too bright, and is it Plexi enough?

To answer the second question, here’s some sound clips to listen to:

Sorry about my ugly mug – it’s because I’m too cheap to pay SoundCloud for access to their mini player 😀

Have a listen to all four demo tracks, and let your ears decide which you prefer. 3 of the tracks were recorded with the Origin, and 1 with my Metro Plex. Can you tell which is which?

Answers below. No cheating!

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Okay, here’s what you’ve just listened to:

  1. The first clip is the Metro Plex.
  2. The second clip is the 20W Origin, with a Carpe Diem drive pedal giving it a helping hand.
  3. The third clip is the 20W Origin, this time with a TC Electronics Dark Matter helping out.
  4. And finally, the last clip is the 20W Origin on its own.

The Origin Is Vintage Voiced, But It Needs Help To Sound Like A Plexi

To my cloth ears, Marshall’s Origin has 3 key characteristics that differ from the famed Super Lead sound.

  1. It isn’t just that Origin’s a bright amp, it’s that more of Origin’s perceived volume is in those upper mids. Dial them back, and you’ll hear the amp start to thin out a bit. On its own, it doesn’t have a huge amount of meaty mids.
  2. The Plexi sound is bright and aggressive. Although Origin is bright, it’s got very soft clipping (assuming you’re in a position to crank it enough to clip at all!). That stops it sounding as aggressive as a Super Lead can.
  3. Finally, the Origin has so much input headroom that it just doesn’t saturate no matter what I try.

On its own, it’s not an affordable version of one of Marshall’s plexi reissues.  But give it some help, and it can get close. Certainly close enough for us home tone chasers.

A Little Help From My (Pedal) Friends

For me, the Carpe Diem got pretty close – in part, thanks to the harder clipping that it has. It’s not a cheap pedal, and it can be quite hard to get hold of, but 2nd hand examples do turn up on eBay from time to time.

The Dark Matter also sounded pretty good – and I thought it sounded excellent considering they currently cost £40 brand new. The clipping is perhaps a little too soft to go head-to-head against a real Plexi, but I tell you what: out of all the pedals I’ve been using this week, the Dark Matter is the one that’s been hooked up to the Origin the most.

The end result still sounds like an Origin amp, no matter which drive pedal you use. You can’t radically change the sound of an Origin using drive pedals alone. But with a little help, the end result’s pretty nice – and a hell of a lot more affordable than a real Plexi 🙂

What do you think? Comments below!

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